Ezekiel 11:19-20 “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”
What a magnificent promise! Religion in general is people trying to get close to God by their own efforts, and every one of those is doomed to failure. However, God’s solution isn’t reform, it’s rebirth, or as it’s expressed here, a heart transplant. When we try to clean ourselves up, we are focused on ourselves, which is why it never works. It’s not that our actions don’t matter, but rather that God is so much greater that our actions become insignificant in comparison. We are indeed to follow God’s rules, which were given for our benefit in the first place, but we can’t do it right in our own strength and wisdom, so we must depend on God to do it in and through us. Frankly, that tramples all over human pride, and that’s why so many people refuse the offer. Repentance is essential, but God provides the necessary strength and wisdom. To go to a physical heart transplant analogy, the surgical team does the actual work, but the patient has to first agree to submit to the surgery and then, after the surgery, they have to apply themselves to the necessary rehabilitation, not to mention switching to a healthier lifestyle than they had before. Going back to the spiritual, repentance and faith are recognizing that you need a new heart and trusting that God can and will give you one. After the “surgery,” you need to take in the necessary “nutrients,” (reading the Bible) and doing the rehab (living in active fellowship with other believers). Any of a number of physical diseases can necessitate a heart transplant, but sin, rooted in pride, is the cause of our needing a spiritual transplant. Just as a physical transplant requires a donor, Jesus died for us so that we could receive His heart. That He has done so is the essence (heart) of the Gospel.
I had never thought of how many parallels there are between salvation and a physical heart transplant before. Taking it a little further, I am certainly not the Surgeon, but I have the privilege of being on the surgical team. At least I can serve as a “patient counselor” to encourage people to go ahead with the surgery. Extending that a little further, I’m an example of a successful transplant, so I need to be open to telling people what it’s like so they won’t be afraid, and also to going through rehab with them so they won’t give up. Just as there are setbacks sometimes in physical rehab, all of us suffer spiritual setbacks at times. I’m to tell people, “You can do this. The Surgeon did a perfect job!” I also need to remind them of a Japanese proverb: “There’s strength in perseverance.” Too many Christians get “dunked and dropped.” I need to help them learn how to walk out what God has done in them.
Father, thank You for this very clear illustration of the Gospel. Guide me in getting it into sermon notes so that I may share it effectively. May Your Word through me indeed draw many people to accept the heart transplant You offer them, and may I then walk alongside them in the “rehab” they need to make them strong indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!